At the beginning of 2020, we all had plans. We set goals and set off on a path to achieving them. Three months in, 2020 had other plans. The Coronavirus outbreak has pulled the rug from under our feet — businesses have shut, jobs have been lost, salaries have fallen, the economy looks grim. At a time like this, it is natural for aspiring artificial intelligence (AI) professionals to feel panic and anxiety. If the market itself will go into recession, what about AI jobs?

Career Coaching on How to Qualify and Apply for AI Jobs

Springboard’s career coach Sreehari Ravindranath answers all your questions. He clarifies doubts or worries you might have about AI jobs and machine learning jobs. He also hand-holds learners through the process of finding the job you want.

#1 Is now the time to transition into a career in AI or ML?

Before the Coronavirus outbreak, there was a steady increase in the number of AI jobs in the market. More and more companies were adopting AI and ML. After COVID struck, the number of job opportunities for software development, for instance, have reduced. But AI jobs and machine learning jobs have not fallen as much. This is because the skill set needed for these jobs is very rare. With the global lockdown during Covid, and the recession about to follow, it will become inevitable for professionals to upskill in future technologies

Now is the best time for you to gain the skills you need to stand out in the future. Qualification in AI / ML will future-proof your career. Even if you get laid off from an organization due to the crisis, you will have skills that will not become redundant any time soon.

Watch the career coaching AMA with Sreehari Ravindranath on Youtube.

#2 What skills do I need for AI jobs & machine learning jobs?

Any complimentary skill will make your transition smoother. 

  • Skills such as statistics, mathematics etc. are transferable to a career in AI / ML. It will give you a strong foundation.
  • Programming skills in Python, R, understanding of SQL and databases are valuable while transitioning into an AI / ML role.
  • Familiarity with tools and frameworks in this domain can also be extremely useful.
  • Hands-on experience and personal projects can stand you in good stead.

#3 Who can transition to ML / AI jobs?

The beauty of AI / ML is that it is applicable across domains. If you’re a mechanical engineer, you can apply AI to your domain, for instance, a self-driving car. Therefore, there is no restriction on who can transition to AI / ML — it is certainly not limited to a computer science graduate. Anyone with an interest and inclination to learn AI concepts, tools and processes can transition successfully.

#4 How to plan a career transition?

With laser focus. To make your transition successful, you need to have a clear plan. It will also be immensely helpful to have a mentor who has walked the path ahead of you and can guide you with clarity. Here are the 12 steps that Sreehari recommends.

  1. Start by learning Python, including Pandas and NumPy
  2. Refresh your knowledge of linear algebra, probability, calculus, inferential statistics etc.
  3. Learn machine learning basics such as linear regression, logistic regression, decision tree etc.
  4. Upgrade to neural networks and deep learning fundamentals
  5. Get involved in computer vision and NLP projects
  6. Create a good LinkedIn profile and build your network online
  7. Engage in data science and ML forums online
  8. Build your GitHub profile
  9. Work on your resume
  10. Participate in competitions on Kaggle, hackathons, apply for internships
  11. Polish your resume with these projects
  12. Design your job search strategy to help you get what you want — full-time work, freelance projects, remote jobs, consulting assignments etc.

#5 How to build an effective AI and machine learning resume?

A good resume shows the recruiter or talent manager that you are the best person for the job. So, build your resume based on what the industry / job demands. See what skills and qualifications the job description requires and highlight the relevant skills you have. 

  • Show that you are skilled in programming — Python, libraries etc.
  • Show familiarity of tools and frameworks
  • Highlight links to your projects to show hands-on experience
  • If you have previous experience, include that
  • If you have any domain experience, showcase that as well

#6 How to prepare for an online interview?

Typically, there are three levels of interviews for AI jobs these days. They are:

  • Coding test: The recruiting company will give you a business problem to solve with AI / ML. They often give 2-3 weeks of time to complete the test. But some companies might expect it sooner too. This acts as a screening level. Only when you pass the coding test will you be interviewed.
  • Technical interview: Here, technology experts will question you to gauge your understanding and skills in AI / ML / deep learning. They will ask questions to test your approach and application of concepts and frameworks. 
  • HR round: At this stage, they will gauge your fit in the culture of the organization. You can negotiate your salary, discuss joining formalities etc.

Since Covid has caused mass lockdowns, interviews happen online these days. It will most likely be a video interview, so make sure you are presentable. Test your laptop, internet, microphone etc. ahead of time. Have a resume ready to share online. Be confident of what you know; remember that you are not expected to know everything. 

#7 What to do if one holds an offer for an AI/ML role, but hasn’t received a callback due to the pandemic?

Be patient. Ever since the Coronavirus outbreak hit, companies themselves don’t have visibility. Organizations who have hired or are hiring are unable to meet candidates and do the onboarding. This doesn’t mean that your offer is withdrawn. Give it some time. Once there is clarity on re-opening of offices, public gatherings etc. you will most likely hear back from the company. There is nothing wrong in following up. Feel free to reach out to the talent manager and ask politely when you can expect to hear from them.

We are living in a world where everything has come to a halt and no one knows how to move forward. The present might seem grim. But the future will certainly improve. In one or two quarters, the situation will stabilise and growth will continue. Prepare for that future by investing your present in emerging technologies. Check out Springboard’s online programs in AI / ML. It not only offers a world-class curriculum, but also includes 1:1 mentorship, career coaching, project guidance and a job guarantee!